Bitcoin LVL Exchange Launches Mastercard Debit Card

The Upstart LVL cryptocurrency exchange opens pre-orders for a Mastercard debit card linked to bitcoin and fiat accounts.

The card is among Mastercard’s premium products and can be used anywhere globally, said LVL CEO Chris Slaughter. Mastercard did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

“It took a few months to get it [Mastercard] to be comfortable with it related to crypto, ”said Slaughter. “Convincing them to fit in with their premium brand played a bigger role because their view of crypto businesses is that they are transactional businesses, not member services businesses. … We are a subscription service, the equivalent of having a premium card membership in Mastercard’s view. ”

The debit card is part of LVL’s goal to bring traditional banking and crypto services closer together for the average consumer. In November 2020, the company moved trading fees on its platform in favor of a subscription-based service. Slaughter said he expected the debit card to generate a “significant portion” of the company’s revenue.

On most exchanges, cash is held in “for benefit” (FBO) accounts. Such accounts are opened in the name of the company and have sub-accounts for individual users. In contrast, Slaughter said, LVL offers demand deposit accounts that are opened in the customer’s name and cannot be controlled by LVL.

Evolve Bank & Trust is LVL’s bank, a community bank based in West Memphis, Ark., Which the exchange accesses through San Francisco-based fintech company Synapse. (Synapse offers APIs that allow other companies to add bank services like checking accounts to their platforms.)

“Other people just want to make crypto-related debit cards [LVL] is the fastest to market on this, ”said Synapse CEO Sankaet Pathak. “One function that people constantly want in the crypto space is the same thing that happened with E-Commerce and Schwab – they want deposit capabilities, direct deposit and card issuing linked to their accounts.”

Last month, BlockFi announced plans for a bitcoin rewards credit card.

“Many of the debit cards that exist in the crypto ecosystem are the kind that focus on this idea of ​​spending your crypto, which clients at BlockFi are not at least interested in doing,” says Zack’s CEO Prince told CoinDesk in an interview in due course.